“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm Mad as Hell...

I woke up this morning really pissed. And it was about books.

I was mad that books are diminishing in numbers faster than a cobra after a hen.

I was mad that Publishers and agents advertise for submissions and then say, “Because of the high number of submissions it is impossible to comment on your work.” I don’t need for them to comment on my work. But stop bellyaching on the amount of work you have to do.  You asked for it.

I’m mad that people don’t read.

I’m mad that our culture is relying on the Internet to publish, to convey information, and to handle about everything in our lives from banking to paying taxes. Do you see some danger in that?

I’m not against the Internet-whoa, what a fount of information. What I am opposed to is our dependence on it.

The other night I tried to read a book to my grandson on my digital device and it was a royal pain. It didn’t accept my finger swipe—I had to ask him to turn the pages, and then it kept giggling back to the previous page. Hey, I’ve had a book fall on my chest because I fell asleep, but I found the page again, and it didn’t argue with me.

Do people remember that books were burned in the past?

What if they decided to censor the Internet?

I know I am preaching to the choir—this being a writers blog. I’m just mad and don’t know what to do with it.

I’ve heard it said that few people read beyond the first 100 pages of a novel. Either the novel was lousy, or the person was lazy.

We are about quick fixes and small sound bites (read-bites) and How-to’s and gossip, when there is so much color, depth and message in a novel that it imbues our brain with a kaleidoscope of wonder.

Science has this to say about people who read fiction:
  • Fiction sparks self-reflection.
  • Readers of fiction tend to be more aware of other’s emotions
  • Reading fiction enhances empathy.
  • Readers of fiction tend to be more tolerant.

You have heard it said that words don’t teach experience does.

What do you have to say about that?

First I say, “Preposterous!”

Then I say, “Well sure, if those words do not evoke some spark of experience in us, we probably won’t remember them.” That is probably the reason fiction imbues the brain.

RED is just three letters put together. But I challenge you to read the word red without conjuring up an image of red.

That’s the reason words work so well, our beautiful brain fills in the pictures. Maybe whoever said, “One  picture is worth a thousand words,” had it backwards.  Maybe a thousand words create some 500 pictures.

“Jesus wept.”

Emotional picture. Two words.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Fifty to One Long Shot

I don't just wish on white horses, sometimes I bet on the bay.

Or How to Maintain Enthusiasm in the Face of Rejection.

Last night I was so inspired I almost fell off the couch.

How I missed it the first time around is beyond me.

I have been a Kentucky Derby fan for years—chose the winner three years running,--on paper, didn’t bet, but I stopped watching for a time after they kept breaking horse’s legs. I was mad that they race three-year olds whose legs are not fully formed. They race them because as youngsters horses are fast.  So, race them as older horses that have strong legs. It’s idiocy. You still have an even racing field. People, though, are concerned with numbers and speed, and sometimes they miss the big picture. And if you want to race in the Derby you must obey the rules.

So, in my discouragement with the Derby race, I missed the 2009 Kentucky Derby where Mind that Bird, was a 50 to 1 long shot. Mind that Bird won the race for two cowboys who didn’t even know the horse qualified, and it was the biggest shock in Kentucky Derby History. Mine that Bird came from dead last, way last, way behind the pack, but in a burst of speed passed every horse on the track, and won by 5 lengths. The announcer wasn’t even watching the horse, so discounting him he was.

I watched the movie last light 50 to 1, loved it, and decided not to be discounted, and to encourage those around me to do the same.

I know you as writers face loneliness, criticism and rejection on a regular basin. Liz  Gilbert, (Eat, Play, Love) said that people even ask her, “Now that you have a best seller, aren’t you afraid you will never meet it, or have another?”

“Yeah. You got that right.”

So how do we motivate people? By crititiques? “By criticism?

Charles Schwab, United States Steel Company, 1927, said, “I have yet to find a person, however great or exalted his station, who did not  do better work and  put forth greater effort under the spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.”

Schwab was not paid a million dollars a year (in1927 yet) because he knew a great amount about the production of steel. He was hired because he knew how to motivate people.
They say that the second most need in people, behind health, is to be appreciated.

Yes, as writers we want to improve our craft. We want to learn those things like when to use words such as their, they’re and there, where to put our commas, how to plot, have a protagonists arc, how to write dialogue, and when to use the hero’s journey as a platform for our story. That information is out there, I don’t have those answers.
One thing I know for sure is that artists need encouragement. Why do I say artists? Because artists hear more than say chemists, doctors, or business men, that their field is a tough one, and they will never make it.

So why are you writing?

Because something in you says you must.

God (the Universe, the Great Spirit, whatever) doesn’t give you a desire without also giving you a way to accomplish it.

Do it.

Stick those rejection slips on a spike (Steven King said his nail became too short), and keep writing.

If you choose to share what you are up to, or say what you would like to see here, you are invited to copy and paste my personal address. That way it will not go to a robot, and you will not need a password. Don’t you have more of those than you can shake a stick at?

I am expecting greatness from you.

Carry on,

P.S. 50 to 1 is available on DVD. It is a labor of love for the director who directed Dances With Wolves and Bodyguard., and the jockey is played by the real jockey who won the Derby on Mine that Bird—a horse with a personality.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ha--It's Grass-Roots, Don't You Love it?

An aside: This blog went blank for a couple of days until a nice lady fixed it for me. I changed to a dot com, and it came up www.thebestdamnwriterbloggerontheblock.com Guess I will keep it.  I wanted "blog" not "blogger. "  On top of that I declared I would post a motivational snippet each day on the side bar. Wham-o! the site went down. In Hawaii we thought it was Pele who jerked us around. Did she follow us, or is there a joker in Oregon as well?

Sometimes the Universe just tests our resolve.

Now onto the blog.

We want the freedom to work when we want, where we want. We want out writing to help people, to inspire them, to change them from the inside out. It's a modest dream, a dream that deserves to come tyrue, and yet a part of you might be wondering...
Will it?
--Jon Morrow

I can relate to that.

How about you?

I was sitting here in front of my computer about to have a pitty-party when good old Zig Zigler’s words popped into my head. “You can get what you want by helping other people get what they want.”

You know we hear enough negativism in the world, and for writers to hear that publishers lose money on 70% (I think that is old statistics) of all books they publish you wonder why in the world you would ever enter that field. But then, why not?

Who are you to limit yourself? Let the publishing industry take care of themselves. And pretty much, writers have taken their successes into their own hands--with self-publishing, so much so that publishing houses have begun self-publishing programs--for which they charge of course.  Bloggers took their own successes into their own hands too, by writing what they wanted and saying what they wanted. Ha--it's grass-roots, don't you just love it? It happened with Natural Childbirth.  It happened with the hippy movement where men and women alike wore jewelry and grew their hair. It happened with co-op foods offering good wholesome organic foods. And what happened? Grocery stores began copying. Now grocery stores have organic produce, organic this, organic that. I love organic. Let's have organic writing.

Why do you, you writers of all people, you who ought to be your own routing section, think you aren't good enough?

Good Lord, you got yourself born--that was your first success, anything beyond that is icing on your bare behind.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

I think we need a Zig Zigler day. He was one of the most optimistic people I have ever heard, and the one who said, “Motivation doesn’t last, but neither does bathing. That’s why we do it every day.”

I think we ought to pop onto this page The Best Damn Writer’s Blog on the Block--bookmark it, copy the address, sign in and I will send you a notice. I don't care. I'm not forcing email sign-ups. Lord in heaven I have more passwords than I can handle, I'm not going to impose any on anyone else. Just come along and get a dose of motivation daily. 

I need it. Do you? 

You can look up your own, contribute here, or just take your daily dose. It will be easy to swallow, I promise.

Now, go out and do it.

Rantings from Jo

P..S. For a direct email to me copy and paste JDwritersblog@gmail.com. I am tired of all the rig-a-mo-role of sign ups. That way it will go directly into my ebox. I would like to hear what you are up to. Is there any way I can help?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Magic of Believing

A couple of days ago I picked up Ray Bradbury’s book Now and Forever at the Library.

Remember him?

He hugged me once. I also slept in Tennessee Williams favorite hotel room in New Orleans—too bad some of their talent didn’t seep into me. But then that’s not the way it works.

Following celebrities will not make you an actor, talented or rich. It can make you believe in possibilities though.  

Maybe that’s what *darsham is. (*Being in the presence of a holy person.)

You sit there. You believe. You are motivated. You think anything is possible. And  so it is.

I began writing this post feeling disgruntled, and now I am talking myself into believing.

Once I was in motivational speaker' #Tony Robbin’s audience and left with feet not touching the ground. (Maybe that's how he does the fire walk.)

One day in Toronto Canada my daughter and I serendipitously found Madonna to be performing that night. We bought two of the last seats in the nose-bleed section, and found ourselves scooted somewhat behind the stage. From our vantage point we saw the elevated platform rise up bringing Madonna onto stage, and the enormous television screens gave us close-ups. That woman can sing standing on her head, while the muscles in her arms, like steel rods, do not quiver.

She gave her all (or so it seemed), and once again we were motivated to action. (Afterward my daughter said, “Can’t you hear me?”

“No, Hon, I can’t.”

I got my ears back though.

The young man beside us at the Madonna concert came all the way from Texas to see this performance. What fun. His enthusiasm was contagious. We had the perfect seats.

There was a lounge singer in Las Vegas --I don’t know who he was, it was ages ago, but I left with my cells vibrating. Rarely do I respond to a singer the way i did to him, I could hardly wait to write something.

In 1938 #Claude Bristol wrote a book titled #The Magic of Believing.

Bristol writes of Angelia Lansbury, who on a rest interval in Hollywood, spoke with an interviewer. (This had to be before 1938 since the book was published then.) She launched into one of her favorite subjects--faith in her own destiny. 

“I don’t mean anything magical or occult,” she said. “Perhaps the power of the subconscious mind would be a way of saying it.”

“In the manner of Tennyson, perhaps of Stevenson?” the interviewer asked.

“Exactly! Not that I think my abilities in any way resemble their genius, you understand. But I think I’ve learned how to tap the resources of the subconscious. Everyone knows the subconscious mind stores all sorts of abilities, memories and aptitudes we don’t ordinarily utilize…What I’m trying to say is that, when you’ve learned how to draw on your subconscious powers, there’ really no limit to what you can accomplish.”

“And how do you go about tapping your subconscious mind?” The interviewer asked.

“Heavens! I don’t want to sound stuffy and highbrowed, but it’s really awfully simple. If you tell yourself over and over that there’s no limit to the creative power within you, that’s about all there is to it. Honestly, I believe that’s true. Whatever intelligence or creative force, or whatever it is, that resides in the world is like…” she waved a strong beautiful hand expressively…”oh, like light or air, or something of that sort. It doesn’t belong to me, especially. It’s there, to be tapped and expressed by anyone who knows how to get it.”

She goes on to say that this isn’t a clear-cut formula, you still have to do the work.

You just keep plugging, perfecting whatever your expression is, so when the time does come...your subconscious has the power to express itself 

Angelia Lansbury, five Tony awards, nominated by the Academy as best actress, and listed as best actress in a drama series every year from 1985 to 1996. Now at age 89 Lansbury is appearing on Broadway in Noel Coward’ s play, Blithe Spirit.

 Charles McNutty of the Los Angeles times writes:

“When Angela Lansbury takes the stage as Madame Arcati, a supernatural charge is instantly detectable...comic radiance…diamond-sharp wit.”  

Angelia Lansbury onstage at 89

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why Did I Start Blogging

Why Did I Start Blogging?

I was asked that question this morning, and now I’m stuck.

Why did I?

You other writers out there, don’t you sometime feel that your voice doesn’t matter?

Who wants to read you anyway?

And why am I doing this?

When I was fresh out of high school, or maybe still in high school, it was so long ago my memory has rusted; I took the Famous Artists correspondence course. In the course someone spoke of  “The Painter with the Pen.” They were speaking of pen and ink drawings, and although I loved oil painting, and even more water color, this painter with a pen idea stuck. That’s what I wanted to be.

In college there were a slug of artists more skilled than me—and taking biology I made more drawings of various microbes, cells, and plants than you could shake a stick at. I really didn’t care if I made drawings anymore. Good thing I didn’t fancy myself as a writer then, but it was then I found I liked writing papers. You figure.

It took me years to get a psychiatrist’s words out of my head, “Writing is self-aggrandizement,” he said. With that statement he wiped literature into an ego trip. And I suppose he could have said the same about any other artistic endeavor.

And then there is that other fellow (Bulwer-Lytton 1839) who said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

I think I’ll go with the second fellow.

Why do we write, paint, garden, make mud balls, beautify our homes, play a musical instrument, sing, build, carve, sculpt, go fishing, do calligraphy, write letters, cook fantastic meals, perfect our sport?

We are all artists at heart, we just need to find our venue.

So why am I blogging? I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I like to write. I wanted to reach out to people. I want to make a difference.

When my second daughter was in the first grade I asked myself what I wanted to be when I grew up.

“A writer,” I said. “If I had anything to write.”

But I began. I put words on a page…and blogging seemed natural since I am a cryptic sort, who likes to make black splotches on paper.

You will never Find the Time—Make it

Friday, May 1, 2015

How to Quit our Job and Move to Paradise...

I can't leave my laptop for a minute...

Well, I have put my stake in the ground as the best Damn Writer's Blog on the Block, and so far no one has challenged me.

So, if you are into blogging as I am, I have an absolute wonderful inspiring must read:

“How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get paid to Change the World,” by Jon Morrows.

While I quit my job (oh, I had a home job, I took it with me) and moved to paradise—it  sucked.

Jon's happy in his paradise, and his blog went viral.

You have to read his post—all of it.

Also, I found, after reading Morrows ebook, 52 Headline Hacks a “Cheat Sheet” for writing Blog Posts That Go Viral, I learned that “HOW TO” headlines are king. Another thing I learned, I suck at is headlines. Practice, says Morrow. Okay dokey. His ebook was free…I will pass it on and share the link on my next post.

First, read this one